18 January 2016
State Secretary of Health Martin van Rijn urges the Dutch Union of Local Authorities to stop facilitating experiments with the Alcohol Licensing and Catering Act. In these experiments in about 50 municipalities it will be tolerated that retail stores providers sell and serve mildly alcoholic beverages in violation with the current law. The idea behind it is that it will make city centers more attractive. Van Rijn has announced that he will appeal municipalities participating in this so called 'blurring-pilot'.
In the Dutch Alcohol Licensing and Catering Act there is a clear distinction between on and off premise sales of alcohol. On premise sales of alcohol are only allowed in bars and restaurants with a licence to serve alcohol. Off premise sales are only permitted in supermarkets and food stores (mildly alcoholic beverages) and in liquor stores (all alcoholic beverages). In the 'blurring-pilot' these distinctions between on and off premise sales will be blurred.
The Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy STAP is very concerned about this development because it increases the availability of alcohol. Alcohol becomes easier available in and around city centers during the whole day, which will lead to more alcohol related nuisance and accidents. Also for health reasons it’s generally advised to restrict the availability of alcohol, says STAP. The State Secretary of Health Martin van Rijn confirms these arguments in his answers to written questions of Members of Parliament.